Top 10 Artworks Made Of Humans

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Top 10 Artworks Made Of Humans


Many cultures throughout history have used the remains of both humans and animals for various things: clothes, weapons, rituals, medicine, and so on. While we wouldn’t expect many of these things to translate into the modern day, the reality is that many people still seem to have plenty of uses for dead (and sometimes living) people and are determined not to let any uproar keep them from doing what they want.


Photo credit: Sunspot Designs

We’ve spoken before about companies that will make diamonds out of your dearly beloved when they have passed, but that’s not your only option if you want to wear the deceased. Sunspot Designs makes jewelry by working with bones and teeth. Owner Columbine Phoenix likens working with these to using “homegrown ivory” and says that it is intended to celebrate life rather than death. She gets the bones used in her work from educational suppliers, who acquire them from schools or museums that are updating their collections.[1] Unsurprisingly, the main target audience is goths. The pieces can cost up to $200.

If you are unfortunate enough to still have all your loved ones in your life, fear not, ladies, because women can now have their breast milk turned into jewelry. In fact, there are no less than 70 businesses devoted to turning a woman’s milk into something personal yet fashionable. Companies such as Breast Milk Keepsakes and Mommy Milk Creations will take a small amount of your milk and turn it into a bead that can be placed in things like pendants, earrings, and bracelets for about $80.

Finally, if anyone remembers Kesha, you’ll know that she has always had a bit of a quirky sense of style, but you’d probably still be quite surprised to learn that she fashioned some of her attire out of human teeth—her fans’ teeth, to be exact. Back in 2012, she asked her fans to send her in a tooth each and ended up getting about 1,000 of them, which she used to make earrings, a headdress, several necklaces, and . . . a bra. Talk about a supportive fan base.


Auctions are a great place to pick up some unusual pieces at low prices and are a popular attraction for artistically minded people. When Francois Robert attended a school auction in Michigan, he was really just looking to pick up a few old lockers for practical, rather than artistic, purposes. But the golden rule in auctioneering is if you buy something, you get to keep whatever’s inside. So when one of the three lockers he purchased for the bargain price of $50 turned out to contain an actual human skeleton, Robert knew he had found his next project.

To be clear, the skeleton had been used for science classes and was not the sad remnants of a long-forgotten poindexter. Actually, this particular skeleton had been wired to hold its shape, so Robert had to trade it in for another before he could get to work. He decided that the best way to put his new friend to use was to create a series of photographs in which he arranged the bones into various shapes reminiscent of war. Creating the likes of guns, grenades, tanks, planes, and knives, Robert used his second skeleton to create a haunting collection of photographs for a series entitled Stop the Violence. While it’s hardly the subtlest collection you’ll ever see, Robert certainly got his $50 worth.


Photo credit: Tim Hawkinson

Looking at Tim Hawkinson’s two 1997 sculptures, Egg and Bird, you could be forgiven for thinking you were looking at exactly that: an egg and a bird. Of course, this is not the case, as the sculptures are actually made out of everybody’s favorite disembodied body parts: hair and fingernails.

Much more subtle than many of the other entries on this list, these sculptures are meant to represent our intrinsic link to nature and how our sense of reality can never escape our bodies, which provide the materials to create the illusion we’re observing.


Photo credit: BBC News

Anthony-Noel Kelly is a British artist who made his name in the 1990s with his realistic sculptures of human bodies, mainly in the form of busts. The police became suspicious of his work after a 1997 exhibition and launched a search which found human remains in both his house and his girlfriend’s apartment. With the help of Niel Lindsay from the Royal College of Surgeons, Kelly had stolen the body parts over a three-year period. He used these to make casts, which were then gilded in silver and gold.

About 40 body parts were recovered, including heads, torsos, and limbs. Lindsay was paid the generous sum of £400 for his involvement but also received six months in jail, while Kelly was sentenced to nine months. The pair were the first people in the history of the United Kingdom to actually be convicted with the theft of human remains, after a ruling that human bodies can be owned—and therefore stolen. Such a crime had already been considered as “outraging public decency.”


Photo credit: Nat Geo TV

There has been much speculation over the years as to the veracity of the claims that the Nazis made lampshades out of human skin. Many people believe it’s just a ridiculous urban legend, created to make the Nazis seem even more evil than they really were. Well, in 2005, a lampshade was bought in a car boot sale for $35 from a man who told the buyer it was made from the skin of a Jewish person. The buyer, Skip, eventually became too uncomfortable with the lamp and gave it to his journalist friend Mark Jacobson, who investigated things further.

The lamp was brought to Bode Technology in Washington, DC, where it underwent a DNA test. Bode Technology is one of the leading DNA labs in the world, having done much work for the US government, including identifying remains from 9/11. When the results came back, it was confirmed that the material used on the shade was in fact human skin from two different people. The first mention of Nazi skin lampshades comes from 1945, by a reporter named Ann Stringer, who says that other items made in the Buchenwald concentration camp included shrunken heads and an ashtray made from a human pelvis.

An artist named Andrew Krasnow has also made a number of pieces out of human skin, including lampshades, a direct reference to Buchenwald. Other things he has created include boots, maps, flags, and a $10 bill. You probably don’t need to be told that this is a statement about morality, or lack thereof, in the United States.

53-D Printed Sculptures

If someone asked you ten years ago whether a machine could be switched on and left alone for 24 hours to make a house entirely by itself, you probably would have said that it’s quite unlikely, at the very least. And yet, that’s where we are today. So if I were to ask you today whether you could turn your grandfather into a rocking chair, you might want to think about your answer.

Wieki Somers is a Dutch artist who wanted to come up with a more creative way to use cremated ashes. Thus, her In Progress exhibition was born. Somers loaded 3-D printers with donated ashes, which were then turned into various sculptures and pieces of furniture. The results are hauntingly familiar household objects that make us reconsider our attachment to worldly possessions. we’d like to think this won’t catch on, you may need to get used to the idea of living in a world where you need to distinguish between “Rock on, Grandpa!” and Rock on Grandpa.


The Dublin Science Gallery in Trinity College is a place for exhibitions where science meets art. Selfmade is one such exhibition, where cheese was made from celebrities who donated not their milk but rather their phlegm, tears, skin bacteria samples, and whatever was found lurking in the depths of their belly buttons.

The bacteria taken from their bodies was used to grow cheese, which then smelled and tasted like that body part. A cheese and wine night was hosted, although the guests were not allowed to eat the art, just smell it.


Photo credit: Harrison/HO

Jessica Harrison is a British artist who specializes in what she calls “body furniture.” This is a bit of a misleading name, as her creations don’t actually involve using pieces of the human body, but they’re generally inspired by it, such as her hairy chair or her drawers that look like human flesh. But she caught a lot of attention in 2010, when she posted a video of her latest fashionable design: fake eyelashes made out of real fly legs.

Although they are not available to buy (not yet, anyway), she still made and wore them herself, which is pretty disgusting. The eyelashes have drawn criticism from PETA, who compared them to hacking off the ears of beagles to make clothes.

2Wall Art

Photo credit: Hans Ladislaus

Forgotten Inheritance is a piece of wall art made of stone and hardened sand that first went on display in the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu in 1996. Despite being approved by a committee that included native Hawaiian members, many other natives took great offense to the sculpture. The reason for this is that it contains the real bones of Hawaiian natives.

Such a sculpture would likely gain a certain amount of criticism anywhere in the world, but the natives of Hawaii have a strong belief in malama iwi, which is taking care of and respecting their ancestors’ bones. After receiving a large number of complaints for years, officials at the convention center finally covered the sculpture in September 2013 and began investigating how to remove it without destroying both it and the bones it contains. Ultimately, an agreement was reached to allow Forgotten Inheritance to continue to be displayed.


Hananuma Masakichi was an artist who lived in the 19th century. Late in his life, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and decided that he wanted to immortalize himself by creating a life-size self-sculpture. He made the sculpture using an elaborate layout of mirrors that allowed him to carve the bits of himself he couldn’t see. He constructed each body part individually. The roughly 5,000 individual pieces of the sculpture are reportedly joined together so well that not even a magnifying glass can detect the seams.

Masakichi polished the model, used needles to poke tiny pores in the skin, and plucked hairs and inserted them into these pores. For each body part on the model, he used hair from the corresponding area on himself in order to create exact realism, right down to the eyelashes. He also pulled out all his own teeth, fingernails, and toenails and made eyes out of glass.

Masakichi finished in 1885 and would stand next to the sculpture so that people could try to guess which was human and which was art. Apparently, it was extremely difficult to tell. The sculpture is currently owned by Ripley’s Odditorium and has been restored and maintained by extremely talented professionals.


10 More Missing Treasures You Can Still Find

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10 More Missing Treasures You Can Still Find


Find treasure, and you could become instantly rich, maybe even famous. You could discover a part of history that we thought was gone forever, or something we never even knew existed. And unlike many other legends,hidden treasure is well documented. Any one of us could stumble across some at any point in our lives, without warning.

10Elysian Park

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Elysian Park is LA’s oldest and second-largest park, spread over roughly 600 acres. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility, therefore, that the legends of treasure there lost for over 150 years could be true.

During the US-Mexico war of 1846–1848, Southern California was a hotly contested territory. Troops from both sides fought for control of the land, striking fear into the hearts of the local elite. Legend has it that, to protect their immense wealth from hostile forces, locals took to the hills, caves, and ravines of this vast park to hide gold, jewels, and more.

Newspapers as far back as 1896 show that people have been searching for the treasure ever since. If the stories are true, it’s likely that many of the residents later recovered their riches. But it is equally likely that many died, fled, or lost their wealth forever by the time the war ended. The most famous example is that of Don Francisco Avila, who built the first-ever house in LA, which stands to this day. Avila was an extremely wealthy political figure and businessman and is likely to have stashed considerable amounts of expensive goods during the war.[1]

Treasure hunter Roy Roush claimed to have found etchings in rocks that he believes may point to the location of this treasure, while another man by the name of Marvin Baker also claims to have found such makeshift maps in the rocks. To this day, however, no treasure has been discovered in Elysian Park.

9Lake Toplitz

Photo credit: Wikimedia

High in the Austrian Alps, and deep in the dense mountain forest, Lake Toplitz is an ideal place to hide $5.6 billion of stolen gold. Rumors have long surrounded this isolated lake, with lifelong local Michl Kaltenbrunner claiming she can “guarantee” that the Nazis dumped gold in the lake. She would have been about 10 years old when World War II ended.[2]

What gives this theory some credence is that £700 million of counterfeit notes that Hitler had planned to use to destabilize the British economy were recovered from the lake in 1959. The dilemma here of course is the question of whether this is what the locals saw the Nazis dump in the lake or just part of what went down. The lake is over 300 feet (100 meters) deep, with a layer of logs floating roughly halfway down, making investigations a very risky ordeal.

8Poverty Island

Poverty Island in Lake Michigan is home to a lonely lighthouse and an absolutely ridiculous amount of gold, if legends are to be believed. Estimates based placed the value of the lost gold at around $400 million today. There are many legends surrounding the possible origin of this gold, the first of which dates back to the 1750s. According to this theory, British forces attacked a French ship sailing across Lake Michigan to woo the Native Americans with gold. To prevent the British from seizing the gold, the captain ordered it be thrown overboard. An almost identical story is attributed to the War of 1812.

Another legend speaks of James Strang, whose gold allegedly ended up in the lake after he was overthrown by his colony on a nearby island. The French make another appearance, with some legends saying the gold belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte the third. Bonaparte supposedly sent the gold to support the Confederates during the civil war, but the plan was thwarted when the ship was attacked and sunk by Canadian pirates. It is unknown whether they apologized.

According to yet another legend, the son of a lighthouse keeper saw a crew of treasure hunters celebrating aboard their ship one night in 1933. The men had reportedly been searching the lake for years, and when it finally looked as though they had found it, a storm hit and sunk them to the depths of Lake Michigan.[3]

The legends are far from over however, as in 2014, two men claimed to have found the shipwreck of what they claim to be the Griffin, a French ship. However, three years on, they have yet to provide any proof of their supposed $2 million discovery.

7Skeleton Canyon

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Skeleton Canyon is located in the Peloncillo Mountains along the Arizona-New Mexico border. Prior to the 20th century, the canyon was a popular trail for smugglers looking to quietly move their booty to Tucson, as well as for the bandits looking to ambush them. While it is possible or even likely that Skeleton Canyon contains multiple sites of hidden treasure, the Skeleton Canyon Treasure refers to one specific haul, originally known as the Monterrey loot.

Toward the end of the 19th century, American bandits carried out a raid on the Mexican city of Monterrey. Despite a few deaths, the raid was quite successful, with the bandits purportedly making off with 39 bars of gold, $1 million worth of diamonds, bags or silver and gold coins, and countless golden crucifixes, chalices, statues, and other humble Catholic artifacts.

The band of bandits were hotly pursued on the 1,000-mile trail, leading them to hide as much of the treasure as they could. Many of these men died on the journey, which is how the canyon got its name. There have been several reports throughout the years of men who set up camp, only to quickly disappear, leading locals to believe they may have been recovering the treasure. It has never been proven whether any or all of the treasure has been recovered, so this canyon may have more than a few skeletons in its closet to this day.[4]

6Kruger’s Millions

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger, or “Uncle Paul” for short, was the third president of the South African Republic for over 17 years at the close of the 19th century. With the advent of the Second Boer War, and public opinion turning against him, Kruger fled South Africa in 1900, two years before his presidency officially ended. But not before taking a little something for himself first.

As Kruger made his escape for Europe, rumors swirled that the train he was riding on was also carrying a substantial amount of gold. Subsequent investigations revealed not only that £1.5 million had been stolen from the government, but that it had been slowly siphoned off for months. Five years later, a prisoner named John Holtzhausen revealed that he had been hired to bury the gold north of Leydsdorp and was the last surviving member of the team.[5]

In 2001, a Zulu family in the town of Ermelo came forward claiming to have found some of the lost coins, while last year another man claims to have found the treasure at the base of the Emmarentia dam. Even if both of these claims are true (and neither has been verified), Ermelo councillors believe the stash would have been split up into at least three caches.


5Tsar’s Treasure

Photo credit: Siberian Times

When most people think of Russian royalty, they’ll think of one of three things: oppression, conspiracy, or decadence. It should come as no surprise therefore that Tsar Nicholas II allegedly stashed away what would now be billions of dollars’ worth of treasure prior to the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. The only question is where.

One theory is that the treasure, consisting mainly of gold, was hidden or simply lost in the tunnels underneath Omsk, a Siberian city that acted as a de facto capital during the revolution. Omsk has a vast network of underground tunnels, and it is a known fact that gold was transported there during the revolution, making this a perfectly plausible theory.

In 2001, it was suggested that the gold could be hidden beneath the home of ballerina/royal mistress Mathilda Kshesinskaya. Excavations of her St. Petersburg home appear to have been a fruitless effort, but since Kshesinskaya only died in 1971, it is possible the gold was moved at some point during the intervening years.[6]

A third theory suggests that the gold went down with the RMS Republic, an Irish ship that sank off the coast of Nantucket. According to this theory, the gold was being sent by the French to the Tsar in secret, when the Republiccollided with another ship and sank. The wreck was rediscovered in 1981, but a 74-day search conducted several years later turned up nothing.

Finally, another theory suggests that the gold may have been aboard a trans-Siberian train that crashed into Lake Baikal, which just happens to be the oldest and deepest lake in the world. Excavations have been attempted, but have met with little success other than confirming the location of the train.

4Ivory Coast Crown Jewels

Photo credit: BBC

In 2010, the Ivory Coast held its first election in over 10 years, which saw the incumbent president Gbagbo pitted against the much more popular Alassane Ouattara. When Gbagbo was declared the winner, the country was thrown into a turmoil that would become known as the 2010–2011 Ivorian Crisis. Although the crisis was short-lived, and Ouattara has shown himself to be a promising figure for change after being democratically reelected five years later, this brief conflict may have cost the coast one of its most valuable treasures: the Ivory Coast Crown Jewels.

As civil war raged through the country, with heavy UN & French intervention, over 80 objects were stolen from the Museum of Civilizations, including masks, necklaces, scepters, and religious artifacts. Valued at around $6 million, it is the immense cultural significance of these objects that sets them apart from other similar losses. Unlike most crown jewels, which are passed down from heir to heir, the Ivory Coast collection represented multiple kingdoms and dynasties, making the loss of this diverse collection especially devastating. Interpol is trying to locate the items on the black market, but have had no success to date.[7]

3Awa Maru

Originally intended to be an ocean liner, the Awa Maru was a Japanese warship built during World War II. With the end of the war drawing near, the US grew increasingly concerned for Allied troops being held captive in Japan. Not because they feared mass execution but because the Japanese were low on resources and would prioritize their own people over their enemies. Switzerland, in its usual peaceful manner, negotiated a deal between the two sides: the US would send emergency supplies, allowing Japanese ships to pass by un-bombed.

Seeing an opportunity to turn the war around, the Japanese used ships much larger than necessary, letting them safely transport raw materials, their brightest citizens, and a collection of invaluable treasure, such as gold and art. Unfortunately for the Japanese, bad weather prevented the entire US fleet from hearing the ‘no-bombing’ plan, and the USS Queenfish torpedoed the Awa Maru in 1945, killing all but one of the 2,004 people onboard.[8]

Although the US concealed the location of the sunken ship for some time, it was declassified and revealed to have gone down in Chinese waters. In the 1970s, a Chinese expedition spent millions trying to recover the treasure, but turned up nothing. The value of the treasure, which included ivory, precious metal, gemstones, and historical artifacts, has been estimated as $5–10 billion, making it potentially the biggest haul in treasure-hunting history.

2Brink’s-Mat Robbery

Photo credit: Wikimedia

The Brink’s-Mat warehouse was a highly secure facility located in Heathrow Airport, London. On November 26, 1983, the security guard on shift was Anthony Black, an inside man who allowed six gunmen into the facility.

The original plan was to break in and abscond with as much cash as possible, but upon entering, the men discovered much more than they bargained for. The warehouse was teeming with platinum, gold, diamonds, checks, and cold hard cash. After dousing the staff in petrol and threatening to set them alight, the men packed up the goods and fled. What was intended to be a haul of around £3 million cash ended up being a literal treasure trove to the tune of £26 million.[9]

Black, who has links to the criminal underworld through his brother-in-law, was sentenced to six years in prison, while two of the armed men were caught and also received sentences of 25 years. Police could trace how a lot of the haul was laundered, but it is believed that £10 million worth of gold remains hidden, and the case has yet to be solved in full.

1Hatton Garden Heist

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Hatton Garden is the Amsterdam of Britain, with a long history of jewelers and diamond traders taking up residence in the London district. It should come as no surprise so that it is also home to some of the UK’s highest security safes, such as the aptly named Hatton Garden Safe Deposit.

What makes this robbery particularly interesting, apart from being the single biggest robbery in British history, is it took place over two days, during theEaster Bank Holiday weekend in April 2015. On their first attempt, four elderly career thieves used an elevator shaft to gain entry to the lower levels of the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit. Using a diamond-tipped drill, they bore through the walls and gained entry to the safe. They then discovered that they couldn’t enter the cabinets where the goods were kept, so they left, got the necessary supplies, and returned the next day. They then walked out with all measure of gold, diamonds, jewelry, and cash. Original estimates placed the cost of the robbery at £14 million, but that has now risen to £25 million. Only one-third of the loot has ever been recovered.[10]

An alarm was triggered on day one, and although a security guard did show up, he was not permitted to enter without police presence (for his own safety). Police likely did not respond because the thieves had tried to disable the alarm system. Unfortunately, these pensioners severely underestimated the omnipresence of technology in today’s world and left a very blatant trail of CCTV footage and phone signals that led police straight to them.

If you’re thinking the only real losers here are the big bad bankers, think again. If you got robbed and didn’t have private insurance, it’s not their problem. Makes you wonder how much they spend on security, especially considering the alarm woke the guard up while he was at home asleep, and not on site guarding.

Simon is a 26-year-old Irish writer who enjoys living up to Irish stereotypes such as drinking and loving the potato. You can follow him on Twitter here.

Top 10 Fascinating Facts About Uzbekistan

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Top 10 Fascinating Facts About Uzbekistan

ASH SHARP MAY 19, 2017

Countries are weird places. So much of our individual identities are tied to arbitrary lines on maps. Robert Anton Wilson said, “Every national border marks the place where two gangs of bandits got too exhausted to kill each other anymore and signed a treaty.” Is that true? Maybe. In our quest to find out more about our world, this week, we’ve gathered some interesting things about Uzbekistan.

10In A Majority-Muslim Country, Vodka Is Hugely Popular

Uzbekistan is one of the few places in the world where religious suppression under the Soviets gave way to more religious suppression but with fewergulags. While the nation has slowly become reacquainted with the Islamic faith, the religion is largely nondenominational and is kept under strict control by the government.

The cultural influence of Russia predates communism quite considerably, extending back to before “the Great Game” with Britain in the 19th century. As such, it is quite common in Uzbekistan to find Russian influence in cuisine, particularly in the consumption of vodka, which is often served in teapots.[1]Wine production is also a relatively resurgent force, with a winemaking pedigree that dates back to Alexander the Great before coming back into fashion in the last century.

9A Lost City The Size Of Monaco Was Literally Just Discovered

Photo credit: Daily Sabah

The Chinese and Uzbeks have been collaborating since 2011 on archaeological projects along old Silk Road routes, and they just hit paydirt.[2]In Ming-Tepe in the Ferghana Valley, what was previously thought to be merely a staging post for the Silk Road has in fact been revealed to be a 2,000-year-old settlement.

The people of those days were likely trading with the Han Dynasty, as the first-century Book of the Later Han tells: “The Son of Heaven on hearing all this reasoned thus: Fergana (Dayuan) and the possessions of Bactria and Parthia are large countries, full of rare things, with a population living in fixed abodes and given to occupations somewhat identical with those of the Chinese people, but with weak armies, and placing great value on the rich produce of China.”

Investigations are ongoing, but the excavation could reveal an ancient city of the Yuezhi people, the nomadic tribes that overthrew the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, which would make this location one of the earliest places where Eastern and Western cultures met.

8Islam Struggles With Authoritarianism

The government of Uzbekistan doesn’t seem to have changed much since the days behind the Iron Curtain. The former president, Islam Karimov, started out as leader of the Communist Party and ruled for four terms, which is pretty impressive when you realize that the constitutional limit is just two. Minor breaches of the law aside, Karimov was dead set on preventing Uzbekistan from forsaking the complete lack of public freedoms of a post-Soviet autocracy in favor of the complete lack of freedom provided by the ideology over the border in Afghanistan. “I’m prepared to rip off the heads of 200 people [ . . . ] in order to save peace and calm in the republic. If my child chose such a path, I myself would rip off his head,” he said, sounding like an utter villain.

Of course, being an authoritarian dictator comes with its problems, like what to do with Islamist terrorists. During the hilariously unsuccessful War on Terror, Karimov allowed multiple black sites for the United States’ extraordinary rendition program. Relations with the West soured, however, when it emerged that in addition to handing over suspected terrorists to the CIA for torture in Guantanamo, Karimov’s regime was also boiling them alive.

The issue the Uzbek people have is that their Muslim culture has been suppressed for so long. The country’s beautifully designed 14th- and 15th-century buildings might have been preserved, but Uzbekistan has maintained a secular stranglehold—leaving the door open for subversive and revolutionary Islamism to take root with the young.[3]

7Corruption Is Rife

One of the major issues with the Eastern Bloc countries was the high level ofcorruption. Uzbekistan takes their state corruption very seriously. As Amnesty International Director John Dalhuisen says, “It’s an open secret that anyone who falls out of favor with the authorities can be detained and tortured in Uzbekistan. No one can escape the tendrils of the state.”[4]Transparency International ranks Uzbekistan as 156th out of 176 countries for corruption, with virtually every area of public life ridden with favoritism, bribery, and so on. Extortion by public officials is particularly common.

You might expect such nefarious actions to extend to the very top, and you’d be correct. Parliamentary and presidential elections are regularly criticized for ballot-stuffing and fabrication of results, and Gulnara Karimova, daughter of the former president, ran an extensive money laundering and corruption network that siphoned hundreds of millions of dollars out of the country.

In most countries, you’d expect enterprising journalists to reveal such behavior, except . . .

6Freedom Of The Press Doesn’t Exist

In Uzbekistan, you have two choices: state-controlled media or nothing. For example, while Gulnara Karimova was happily fleecing every business she could get her hands on, the press were publishing puff pieces to clean up her image. Karimova’s shenanigans were common knowledge, and according to leaked US communiques, she was the country’s “most hated person.” Within a year of those cables in 2013, the news site (now closed by the Uzbek authorities) published pieces distancing President Karimov from his daughter as he dismantled her business empire, and reports emerged that the Uzbek secret police had Gulnara under house arrest.

Imagine a society with some semblance of a free press in which these events occurred. Imagine that Chelsea Clinton had been arrested by the FBI and had been discovered defrauding the nation. Then imagine that nothing is heard for almost three years, and Chelsea is presumed dead, only to apparently resurface again, still under house arrest.[5] The fact that news of this case is smuggled out in secret letters or by secret meetings with Swiss lawyers should give some insight into the state of the media—and that’s without mentioning the four journalists still in Uzbek jails for criticizing the state.

5Huge, Juicy Melons

On a happier note, Uzbekistan is the world capital of melons. They have in excess of 150 different varieties, which form a staple part of the local diet, served fresh in the summer and eaten dried through the winter. According to the Press Office of Uzbek Tourism, achieving mastery in melon-cutting is a real thing that people do, as is judging whose melons taste the best.[6]

We would like to inform our readership that writing this entry without making double entendres has become impossible, and it is therefore the shortest entry on this list, due to the writer being juvenile. We apologize unreservedly.

4The Legendary Conqueror Tamerlane Was Born In Uzbekistan

Photo credit: shakko

In the West, we know relatively little about Tamerlane, or rather, we are taught relatively little in comparison to the Mongol horde of Genghis Khan. Perhaps this is due to the fact the Timurid Empire only lasted for 137 years and did not spawn successive empires.

As a Turco-Mongolian, Tamerlane found himself in a unique and challenging position during his rise to power. His Turkmen heritage and Islamic faith gave him some legitimacy with the Muslim world, and his Mongol lineage did the same on the side of the great hordes. However, as neither a direct successor of Muhammad nor Genghis Khan, Tamerlane needed subtle politics and myth-making to create his advantage. By claiming to be “protector of the member of a Chinggisid line, that of Genghis Khan’s eldest son, Jochi” (in reality a puppet), Tamerlane dodged the requirement of being a khan to rule. By circulating myths of his own divine provenance, he played into the Muslim belief that military success came from Allah alone, and therefore Tamerlane was surely anointed in some manner.[7]

Remembered in Uzbekistan as a folk hero and great conqueror, Tamerlane forged a huge, multiethnic army ostensibly under his self-styled banner as the “Sword of Islam.” His career saw the defeat of the Knights Templar, the sacking of Delhi, and the conquering of the fractured nation-states of Persia and eventually led to his death while trying to conquer the Ming Dynasty.

Tamerlane was, in short, a total badass. He also killed an estimated 17 million people and employed terror as a weapon with no qualms whatsoever, once building several pyramids from the severed heads of 200,000 of his own subjects who had rebelled against his taxation. In such a way, Tamerlane is considered to be the founding father of systematic terror as a weapon of war.


A double-landlocked country is a landlocked country that is itself surrounded by landlocked countries. Uzbekistan is in Central Asia and is surrounded by Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. As you need to cross at least two of these countries (i.e Turkmenistan and Iran orAfghanistan and Pakistan) to reach the coastline of the Arabian Sea, Uzbekistan is doubly landlocked.

Time for pedantry. It could be argued that, in fact, Uzbekistan is not landlocked at all, having the Aral Sea to the north. This argument is wrong. The Aral Sea is technically a saltwater lake and has no connection to the ocean, so Uzbekistan is truly a double-landlocked country.[8]

Here’s a pop quiz for the comments: Uzbekistan is one of only two doubly landlocked countries in the world. Which is the other one? No search engines allowed.

2A Massacre Changed The Course Of The Country (But No One Really Knows Why)

Photo credit: The Kalifah

The Andijan massacre in 2005 was, without a doubt, a bloodbath. Beyond this, things get a little confused. What is known is that 23 businessmen who were members of an ostensibly peaceful Muslim group were arrested, allegedly for growing too powerful and threatening government control. These men were promptly broken out of jail by armed fighters, and then an occupation of the town took place.

According to the protestors, the standard of living in Andijan was too low. The businessmen proposed a form of Islamic socialism, a high minimum wage, and job creation programs. The government disagreed, and the army was instructed to move in, massacring an estimated 500 people.[9] Some place the death toll as high as 1,500.

The government claimed that the protestors were Islamists, but this appears unlikely, given the nature of the group in question. It had no history of violence and no support for other actual Islamist groups in Uzbekistan who advocated for an Islamic state. We may never know the truth, but US president George W. Bush denounced the repression, which in turn led to the closure of the US Air Force base at Karshi-Khanabad and a strengthening of ties between the Uzbeks and China and Russia. The support of these two countries headed off an international investigation by the UN, and the true events of the massacre may never be revealed.

1Hope For The Future

After the death of Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan received only its second president since declaring independence in 1991. Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who comes from from the same Samarkand clan as his predecessor, could in no terms be described as a modernizer.[10] However, after taking power in a routine, Soviet-style sham election, Mirziyoyev has actually slackened the authoritarian grip the state has on Uzbekistan a tiny, tiny bit.

After announcing an online portal for Uzbeks to write to him with their concerns, President Mirziyoyev has signed a valuable trade deal with Chinaand moved to improve relations with Uzbekistan’s neighbors. Flights to Kyrgyzstan have resumed for the first time since 2005, and while the country still an isolationist state, there is at least the vaguest feeling that Uzbekistan may be opening the door a crack.

Top 10 Credible Claims Of Alien Abduction

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Top 10 Credible Claims Of Alien Abduction


There are many claims of alien abduction every year across the world. Most are best to be taken with a pinch of salt. Some of them, however, are both more intriguing and credible than the rest. Particularly those that are little known about, usually due to the persons involved being perfectly aware of just how “crazy” they sound, and so do not seek publicity of any kind, and certainly no monetary reward for their reports. Perhaps because of this, their stories and accounts might be treated a little more seriously. Here are ten such encounters that are far from well-known, but perhaps deserve a thorough investigation.

10Carol and Helen Thomas—Abducted in an Alleyway


In the early hours of March 30, 1988, Helen Thomas and her mother Carol set off for work at the nearby mill.[1] They walked through the city housing estates and back alleyways as they always did.

This particular morning, however, both women suddenly noticed a low humming sound above them, before an intense, bright light shone down, effectively blinding them. As the light disappeared, both women came to their senses, feeling a little nauseous and dizzy. Helen’s leather jacket wassoaking wet, yet all around them, the ground was dry. Feeling confused, the two women carried on their way to work. Once there, they were informed by the security guard that they were several hours late.

Over the following days, their skin would come out in blisters and rashes, and a constant feeling of anxiety ran through both women. It would be several years before they made contact with leading UFO researcher, Tony Dodd, who agreed to conduct interviews with the women under hypnosis. Each would recall being taken into a large bright room, and laid on tables. An unusual net-like material was placed on their legs that seemed to weigh them down. Creatures with large heads and large dark eyes performedstrange experiments on them, including the taking of eggs from their bodies through a thin tube inserted into their bellies. Everything was “wet to touch,” and even more bizarrely, one of the aliens took a particular liking to Helen’s jacket, rubbing the material across its face and through its hands—resulting in it becoming soaking wet.

9Tracey Jones—Regular Abductions since Childhood


The mysterious events that surrounded Tracey Jones began to be revealed in the summer of 1997, and were more akin to paranormal activity as opposed to alien abduction or intervention. She would regularly find household items moved about, or even having vanished completely, only to turn up again completely out of the blue. Electrical appliances would stop working without reason, and both Tracey and her husband, Darren, would awake to see strange figures around their bed.

One particularly odd incident happened following major surgery that Tracey had undergone. A large, flat bandage masked the incision on her chest. One morning, she went to remove the bandage only to find it was gone.[2]Furthermore, the wound had completely healed over and only a very small scar remained.

Under hypnotic regression, Tracey described being abducted since she was young, each time she was subjected to medical tests and examinations, including the removal of eggs through a “long silver tube.” What’s more, she claimed during these sessions that her children have also been abducted on regular occasions since their birth.

When the family moved to Dubai for Darren’s job, the paranormal activity continued to happen, as it did when they moved back to the United Kingdom several months later.

8Multiple Abduction at a BBQ


One summer evening in July 1995, couples and friends Mike and Debbie joined Steve and Annie at their Derbyshire house for a barbecue and several drinks. The night suddenly took a bizarre and frightening turn a little after 10:30 p.m.[3]

Out of nowhere, an unusual disc-shaped craft hung over them. They watched it for several minutes before all four of them began to feel extremely nauseous. The UFO then vanished as quickly as it had arrived. Steve looked over to the barbecue that only moments before had been glowing hot. It was now nothing but gray ash; the meat burned to a crisp. He checked his watch and was alarmed and confused to find it was well after midnight. Almost ninety minutes had passed.

Over the next few days, they all began to feel generally unwell, have trouble sleeping, and an overall feeling of anxiety. The friends agreed to be hypnotically regressed, and all four told the same story. They had been taken on board the spacecraft, and into a medical room where they were placed on tables for examination. The walls were described by Debbie as being “round, but divided into squares,” while Steve claimed he saw “figures and drawings on the walls” of various planets—including ones from our solar system that he could clearly recognize.

7Garry Wood—The A70 Incident


While traveling along the A70 with his friend Colin Wright, at just after 10:00 p.m. on August 17, 1992, Garry Wood noticed a black object in the distance.[4]Alerting his friend, both men watched as the object came closer before a blinding white light formed a wall in front of the vehicle. Wood continued to drive the car forward, transfixed by the bright intensity.

The next thing both men knew, the car had come to a complete stop, facing the opposite direction. They had no memory of turning the vehicle around, or what had happened to the light and the object they had seen. When Wood looked at his wristwatch, it now read just after 11:00 p.m. Both men, extremely shaken, realized something was wrong.

They would reluctantly undergo hypnotic regression to try to recover the lost hour of time. The results were startling. Both spoke of feeling an intense pain as the car had driven into the light—as if they were experiencing a strongelectric shock. Three extraterrestrial beings had come to the vehicle and escorted both men onto their spacecraft, which had landed in the road. Each was stripped of his clothing and placed on a table for examination.

Wood recalled that he could hear agonizing human screams coming from the room around him. Overseeing the whole episode was a taller creature, with a large head and big, dark eyes. However, it is what Wood claimed the alien, through telepathy, said to him that is perhaps most chilling. In response to a question Wood could not recall asking, the tall alien stated, “Sanctuary—we are here already and we are coming here!”

6Philip Spencer—The Ilkey Moor Incident


On the morning of December 1, 1987, a little past 7:00 a.m., the witness known under the assumed name “the former policeman, Phillip Spencer” set off from his home in Ilkely, across the Yorkshire Moors to his father-in-law’s house.[5]

As he drove along an otherwise quiet country road, with daylight barely breaking over the area, he could hear what sounded like a low-flying helicopter. He looked around but could see nothing unusual in the sky. He did, however, see a strange, small creature standing on the hillside next to the road. He brought his car to a stop and made his way towards the mysterious figure, which was now heading up the slope to a quarry at the top. He managed to take a picture before it disappeared out of sight. By the time he had reached the top of the hill, the creature was nowhere to be seen, but a huge silver disc was just in the process of shooting into the sky directly above him.

He returned to his car, and given the events he had just witnessed, returned home. Only as he arrived back, did he realize it was after 10:00 a.m. and he could not account for nearly three hours. Vivid, intense dreams began to haunt Spencer over the coming days, leading him to undergo hypnosis.

He revealed that he had stood underneath the silver disc staring at it in amazement when he was suddenly lifted from the ground and taken on board. He would find himself in a medical room, on a table, and he distinctly remembers a voice inside his head telling him not to be afraid. The next thing he knew, he was back on the ground, and the alien craft was moving up and away from him. Incidentally, the photograph he snapped was proven to be authentic and not tampered with.

5John Day—Family Abduction


Returning home to Essex in October 1974 with his wife and children, John Day, who had no belief whatsoever in UFOs or aliens,[6] had an encounter that would change his mind forever.

The journey should have taken half-an-hour, getting the family home at around 9:45 p.m. They arrived as normal, left the car and got the children ready for bed. As they were doing so, John realized the time was almost 1:00 a.m.—their journey had seemingly taken them over three hours.

Over the coming days, all members of the family began to experienceterrifying nightmares—nightmares so intense they were afraid to go to sleep. John and his wife, Susan, also had a perpetual feeling of anxiety and confusion.

John, on the advice of a local UFO report group, contacted Leonard Wilder, a hypnotist who was familiar with such cases of missing time. Under hypnosis, John spoke of driving into a strange bright mist that had suddenly fallen from the sky. A bright light began to descend into a nearby field, which then shot towards the car. The whole vehicle was lifted onto another object, that John described as a “spaceship.”

Even under hypnosis, John’s memories were hazy. He recalled a “metal arm” swinging over him, as well as feeling as if he was being “poked” by sharp instruments. He also recalled that the spaceship had “furniture that was molded to the walls” with no obvious seams. The next memory he had is of driving his family onto his driveway.

4“Mrs. G”—Abducted While Hanging Out Washing


While hanging out washing in her back garden, a woman known only as “Mrs. G” due to her request for strict anonymity, noticed a strange blue lightdescending straight down from above. It became stationary around one-hundred feet (30 m) above her.

The light came down and enveloped her. Before she realized what was happening, she began to rise up from the ground inside the glowing beam. She found herself in a room with three otherworldly beings across from her. She described them as tall, wearing “tight, shiny metallic suits” and a balaclava-type hat on their heads.

The next thing she knew, she felt a “sharp blow” on the back of her neck, and she was standing in her garden again. A quick look at her watch revealedseveral hours had passed[7] since she first left her house to hang out her washing, all of which, incidentally, still sat in the basket.

3Bob Rylance—Abducted Several Times over Two Decades


Bob Rylance is a military veteran with over twenty years experience, yet only when he agreed to undergo hypnotic regression, did he realize that during that time, he had regularly been abducted by visitors from another world.

In the same way as the aforementioned Tracey Jones, Rylance had always noted strange paranormal experiences, such as hearing buzzing late at night,[8] and footsteps in the hall and landing outside his bedroom.

Like many others before him, once under hypnosis, he would describe in detail of being taken into a room and placed on a medical bench where various experiments were performed on him. On one particular occasion, he recalled having a “triangular grid” placed on his stomach, while at the same time being told telepathically, that it was to “cure a diseased part of your stomach.”

2“Sharon from Yorkshire”—Abducted by the Builders of the Pyramids?


“Sharon,” a young mother of two from Yorkshire, heard accounts of alien abduction one afternoon on the radio and decided to seek information and help. Although she had no interest in UFOs, she had been experiencing unusual events for some time, including missing time and strange marks on her body. She wished to go under hypnosis to finally get to the bottom of the anxious feelings that welled up inside her.

She would indeed tell of being abducted, being taken aboard a spacecraft, and of having intense and invasive medical experiments carried out on her. Perhaps more bizarrely, she also recalled being stood with many other abductees “on a ramp” as if they were awaiting transportation somewhere. She even went as far as to recognize one of these fellow abductees, a gentleman she would name as Nigel.

Maybe her most spine-chilling announcement, however, was of an abduction that occurred when she was still a teenager. While having a cigarette at the bottom of the garden away from her family, she found herself being lifted off the ground and onto an alien ship with “Egyptian writing” on the walls.[9]Following an examination, she and others were told that they “have to respect the Earth and not pollute it!” Then they spoke about the need to “learn about Pyramids!” According to Sharon, her captors claimed, “We put Pyramids here!”

1The Deverow Family Abduction


Returning home on the A65 road in North Yorkshire just after 5:00 p.m. in January 2005, Rachel Deverow, along with her two sons, Benji and Alex, and her mother, Anne, would see a bright light that seemed to be following their car. They continued to watch it for several minutes before it dived towards them and then sped off out of sight.

They continued on their ten-minute journey, realizing when they arrived home that it was well after 6:00 p.m. Feeling confused about the hour of missing time, Rachel and the family attempted to put the incident out of their minds. However, Alex began to speak of weird dreams he was having, where he was flying over the countryside “in a strange bubble!”

Rachel eventually agreed to undergo hypnotic regression in order to try and recover the missing hour. She claimed that upon the light descending, all of the family were “flown” up to an alien craft. Once inside, she would describe the room as having no walls and like “standing in space.” A dazzling light shone overhead, and there were “little ones” moving around them, observing and studying them.

According to the family, they still see strange lights over their family home, leading many UFO researchers to believe that they are likely repeat abductees, and probably have been for some time.

MARCUS LOWTHMarcus Lowth is a writer with a passion for anything interesting, be it UFOs, the Ancient Astronaut Theory, the paranormal or conspiracies. He also has a liking for the NFL, film and music.

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Top 10 Highly Successful Liars From History

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Top 10 Highly Successful Liars From History


Spinning a yarn, telling a tall tale, or flat out lying. Whatever you want to call it, these folks weren’t afraid to do it, and it didn’t prevent them from creating impressive legacies, being beloved, or amassing wealth.

10Benjamin Franklin


Photo credit: Joseph Duplessis

We may never know for sure what Benjamin Franklin meant when he (supposedly) said, “half a truth is often a great lie,” but we do know that he loved to tell a great lie. Despite this, he’s memorialized in art, history books, and even stuck on currency notes. Not bad for a cheating, lying, political opportunist!

Even most amateur historians agree Franklin lied about, after having a hunch about the true nature of lightning, experimenting on lightning with a kite and a key. It never happened, nor do most scientists believe it is even possible.[1]

Besides this most famous of tales, Franklin was also among the first to deploy fake news to stir up passion in the people. Using a homemade printing press in 1782, he concocted, wrote, and printed an entirely fake newspaper, running a story about the discovery of teenage scalps on the frontier. The story was meant to arouse fear against the local Native American tribes and even included fake letters to the editor. It was picked up by the actual press, leaving Franklin to chuckle in his britches and brag to friends about how easily he had pulled a fast one on the poor American settlers.

9Frida Kahlo


Photo credit: Guillermo Kahlo

While she isn’t known for being a liar, this artist is well documented for some blatant bending of the truth—and largely celebrated for being so unapologetic about it, rather than criticized for writing her own history

Frida told two bold, widely spread lies about her life. The first was that her father, Guillermo, was a German Jew, which he was not. While the claim spread far and wide (the feature film[2] about her life even includes a scene where Guillermo refers to his background in this way), Guillermo was from a long line of Lutherans and only came to Mexico because he didn’t get along with his stepmother very well.

Frida also preferred to give a birthday that was not accurate. Although the artist was born in 1907, she said she was born in 1910, the year the Mexican Revolution began.

Who can point a finger? The artist lived most of her life in physical and mental agony and left an artistic legacy that very few individuals from her time can complete with.

8Frank Abagnale


Photo credit: Abagnale & Associates

Who can help (even secretly) cheering for Frank Abagnale? Not only did he get away with what are now considered to be horribly obvious hoaxes, he ended up a pretty wealthy dude because of getting discovered. That’s just some serious talent.

Abagnale is now most known for being portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in the film Catch Me If You Can, about a teenage boy who figures out how to pull the wool over the eyes of everyone he comes into contact with, and spends the next six years doing just that. Abagnale’s most famous lies include: posing as a pilot at age 16, being handed a legitimate position as a medical supervisor at an ER at age 18, passing as a Harvard Law School graduate to obtain a job as an attorney in Louisiana, and seducing who knows how many older women into affairs.

Here’s the really good part: Abagnale ended up spending less than five years in prison before being hired by the FBI to consult on fraud cases in return for his release. Following this gig, Abagnale found it difficult to hold down a job, given his reluctance to disclose his criminal past to a long line of employers, and his entrepreneurial instincts once again came in handy. He founded the successful firm Abagnale & Associates, has had an Academy Award–nominated film and a Broadway play made about his life, and is a successful businessman with admirers around the world.[3]

7Bill Clinton


Photo credit: Bob McNeely

You all know the story: Linda Tripp was out to get Clinton. She happened to record a friend of hers, the young and impressionable Monica Lewinsky, confiding in her about having a sexual relationship with Mr. President himself. Tripp turned over the tapes to the right people, and the morality of the nation was rocked to its core.

Instead of fessing up, President Clinton boldly, adamantly, and even under oath-y, denied the affair, only to recant and admit the entire thing later that year when it became clear that he would not be able to prevent truth from being exposed. Perhaps even more than being a liar, we can most accuse him of the worst ability to predict an outcome in American political history.

You have to hand it to Clinton. Despite the very public scandal, he came out on top (so to speak). He went on to be one of the most active and influential former presidents in history, founding the Clinton Foundation in 2001, partnering with multiple world leaders to help rebuild Haiti, authoring a best-selling autobiography, and being continually involved in successful environmental and humanitarian efforts domestically and abroad.[4]

6Calamity Jane


Photo credit: Wikimedia

No one can accuse Calamity Jane of lacking a bold streak. Orphaned at age 14, it appears she quickly decided she would do whatever it took to keep afloat, even if it meant telling a fib or two along the way.

Calamity Jane is memorialized in popular culture as the sidekick to Wild Bill Hickok and for being one of the Wild West’s original cowgirls. However, friends of Wild Bill’s claimed Hickok had very little interest in Jane as a friend and definitely didn’t consider her a sidekick.

Even Jane’s current Wikipedia page[5] lists one of her occupations as a scout for the military. Jane loved to boast about this chapter in her life and that a Capt. Egan had given her the name “Calamity” after she saved him from capture. There is, however, no record of her ever having served under Egan, or any other general for that matter. It is, therefore, believed that Jane gave herself the name Calamity, along with most of the rest of her biography.

Although her lies are well documented and easily debunked, it hasn’t kept Jane from becoming one of the most beloved and famous figures from the Wild West, rivaling even her so-called partner in crime, Wild Bill Hickok.


5Pope Alexander VI


Pope Alexander VI, born Rodrigo de Borja is infamous for unabashedly making “the end justifies the means” his life motto (yes, he was born over 100 years before that term was invented, but that’s beside the point).[6]

De Borja loved power, and in Italy in the late 1400s, the pope was pretty much as powerful as a human being could aspire to be. He also loved women and wasn’t about to let the pesky laws around sexual piety stand in his way.De Borja fathered four children by his long-term mistress Vannozza dei Cattanei, and though he denied his paternity at first, he was quick to legitimize all children once he was awarded the title of pope in 1492. De Borja is believed to have fathered five additional children by various women.

The Vatican was evidently a much different place in 1492 than it is today. Despite being out and proud about his many children, Pope Alexander had a pretty successful reign. While ruthless, he was known for favoring negotiation over war, was a fierce patron of the arts, and his children rose to power around Europe. Today countless books, plays, television shows, and even video games feature him as a force to be reckoned with.



Photo credit: Marie-Lan Nguyen

The Father of History may have had more of a taste for a good story than the facts, leaving some to now also refer to him as the Father of Lies.[7]

Leaving a legacy for politicians to follow for the rest of time, Herodotusfigured exaggerating the truth was the best way to make his side look better, and he would also be able to get away with it. His Histories included many exaggerations of the truth and outright lies, all for the purpose of enlarging the perception of Greek greatness. And while many like to view him as a pure scholar, others say his greater talent was perhaps relaying stories he had been told throughout his travels.

He remains one of the most notable figures in ancient history, and most memorialized as well. Herodotus’s image in sculpture form alone is found across the world, from New York City to Turkey to Greece. He must have been some performer.

3Henry VIII


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Let’s face it, you don’t divorce your pious and devoted wife of 24 years, head up the Reformation, behead the woman you started it for shortly thereafter, and then marry another dame a week later without telling a fib or two along the way.

Wife #1 won’t disappear to make way for new, likely to-bear-strong-sons wife #2? Claim the marriage was invalid from the beginning and that you are just realizing it.[8] Pope still refuses to grant you a divorce? Tell everyone that God wanted you to be the head of the church all along. Wife #2 doesn’t bear you a son? Tell everyone she’s a witch who is committing incest and have her head cut off. Ah the beauty of a lie of convenience.

Despite all this treachery, you can almost hear the people around King Henry saying “meh?” and shrugging their shoulders.

2Benedict Arnold


Photo credit: Wikimedia

While he may be considered a Judas in American history, Benedict Arnoldwent on to lead a solidly successful professional life after being discovered as the biggest traitor ever to the American cause.

Arnold, who was born on American soil in 1741, was truly motivated by resentment and the promise of cash. Despite being an active figure of the American Revolution and ultimately becoming a celebrated war hero for nearly 10 years, he was convinced to jump ship and go undercover for the British army. Resentful over others being promoted faster than he was and that others got credit for his military chutzpah, Arnold must have given off the stench of a man ready to make a deal. By 1779, he had started plotting with the British Army with the agreement that cash and military command would be given in return.[9]

Talk about poor execution. Arnold was quickly discovered when one of his cohorts was captured with written documentation of the plot. While the cohort was hanged for treason, however, Arnold escaped and managed to have solid careers in England, ranging from military service to exporting and property (though even in England he failed to ever gain much popularity).

His decisions didn’t sit well with American patriotism then or now. Following the discovery of his plot, the graves of his unknowing family members were destroyed. To this day, Benedict Arnold is demonized, and his name itself is a synonym for traitor. Yet not only did he achieve lasting fame—he always managed to come out on top in his dealings, and his three boys all had successful military careers.

1Robert Ripley


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Believe him, or not?

The magic of Robert Ripley’s wild success might have been that he mixed lies that couldn’t be verified with outrageous facts that couldn’t possibly be made up. Combine that with an enormous dose of audacity, and you have the Believe It Or Not empire.

Ripley’s “discoveries” were from every category and place on the planet. In 2012, Vanity Fair listed just a few of his claims about fantastic people and freaks of nature he had encountered. The list includes: “men with horns on their heads, a child cyclops, an armless golfer, a fork-tongued woman. There were fish that climbed trees, wingless birds, four-legged chickens, peg-legged cows.” While much of what Ripley wrote about can be verified, a lot cannot, leading him to be introduced as the “World’s Biggest Liar” at speaking gigs during his lifetime. Ripley’s response: “It makes no difference what I say. You won’t believe me anyway.”[10]

Given that he claimed his own dreams as sources for some of his discoveries, it’s easy to say that there was a lie or two told along the way, starting with the date of his birth up to the tree-climbing fish. Regardless, an empire was amassed in his name that continues to thrive today. Ripley Entertainment owns over 90 attractions around the globe that remain highly loved.

Janice Formichella is an American-born traveler of the world currently residing in Bali, Indonesia. She loves history, gin, girl talk, her bullet journal, and a good list. You can follow Janice and her adventures on Twitter and on Instagram.

10 Gruesome Tales From The Dead House, AKA The Morgue

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10 Gruesome Tales From The Dead House, AKA The Morgue


Long before it was commonly called a morgue, it was called the dead house. The dead were kept inside until family claimed them or arrangements could be made for their burial. Sometimes, bodies were dissected in the dead house, and sometimes, those who were near death were placed inside to await the end.

The dead house held locals in morbid fascination. It was the center of entertainment for thrill seekers, and it was a place of gossip. Newspapers from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s often published stories about the inner workings and troubles within the gruesome walls.


10Poor Conditions Of The Houses


For the “unfortunates” who died in Albany, Western Australia, in 1889, there was no dignity in their deaths. Their bodies were placed in a little shed on theprison grounds where water would rain down on their bodies from the leaky roof.

Upon entering the dead house, their bodies were placed on an old, wooden table. A small blanket was placed on them to cover their intimate bits until it was time to place them in an unnamed hole in the ground.

Sadly enough, the condition of the dead house at Albany was nothing compared to that in Beechworth, Victoria. In 1877, it was reported that the hospital’s dead house was dangerously unsafe.[1] Doctors claimed that it had accumulated “putrid matter of the very worst description.” Dr. Dobbyn said that it was “merely a place for bottling up the germs of disease.”

A committee decided that it was time to erect a new dead house in the vicinity. However, several doctors were worried about ripping up the old flooring and removing the dirt beneath the building because it could have released a deadly plague into the populace.

The building was so disgusting that doctors also believed that the hospital might be committing murder by sending men in to demolish the old dead house. Instead, it was recommended that the ground beneath the building not be disturbed.

9Rat Infestation


In 1911, there was a discussion on what to do about the dead house in Bantry, Ireland. As it turned out, the dead were being housed in a workhousechapel before families could claim them and prepare them for burial.

The main problem with the dead house was that it was more like a rat house. The rat infestation in the chapel was so terrible that large stones had to be placed over the coffins to prevent the rats from getting at the corpses and eating them.

The debate over what to do about the problem was rather heated, with at least one person seeing no issue with rats eating the dead.[2]


8Woke Up With Two Dead Bodies


Photo credit:

Imagine what it would be like to wake up next to dead people. It happened in San Francisco, California, in 1870 when a German being treated in a hospital appeared to be dead. His body was immediately taken to the hospital’s dead house and “deposited in a case where two other bodies had already been placed, and between them. The cover was put on, and the keeper of the dead house retired for the night.”

At around midnight, the German woke up and started to scream and howl. Hospital staff woke up the keeper and told him to check on the situation, but the man was too afraid to move. He was resolved to let the ghosts fight it out among themselves, but he soon caved in to pressure to check the room.

Upon opening the door, the keeper saw the German standing in the death gown placed on corpses and fainted. The German ran out of the door and through the corridors of the hospital. He was in such a mad panic[3] that staff had to wrestle him until he fell to the floor.

A physician was called in and restored the German to his senses.

7A Place To Finish Dying


The dead house in Chinatown, Los Angeles, California, took on the extra role of housing the nearly deceased. According to an 1888 report, “A Chinese ‘dead house’ is usually a tumbledown and isolated hovel into which Celestials, overtaken by incurable diseases, are thrown and allowed to die.”

In one case, the dying person was a man suffering from leprosy. A policeman had entered the dead house and discovered the emaciated man, who was groaning in pain and appeared to be rotting from the inside out.[4]

The concerned officer returned to police headquarters and reported the incident. Since it was leprosy, a feared disease, it was decided to leave the man where he was until a decision could be made on the case.

No further word was published on the incident, but it can be assumed that the man probably passed away inside the dead house.

6No Running Water


Of all the necessities one might think should be in a dead house, running water would be at the top of the list. However, in a letter to the editor written in 1886, a concerned citizen brought up the then-current problems with the Fremantle, Western Australia, dead house.

According to the letter, the dead house, where autopsies were often performed, had no running water whatsoever. The room was without a bench, and the door to the dead house did not latch shut.[5] People could come and go as they saw fit, leaving bodies desecrated or even walking into an important autopsy.

There was no consideration given to the deceased even though the colonial surgeon had been pushing for some resolution to the problem with the higher-ups. It was clearly a money issue, but the public was growing increasingly upset over the conditions of the dead.


5Salisbury Prison


Photo credit:

John G. Weaver belonged to the 2nd Ohio Cavalry during the US Civil War. After he was taken prisoner by the South, he admitted that he was treated extremely well until the day the train came and took him to Salisbury Prison in North Carolina.

Inside the prison, Weaver encountered many starving prisoners. Rations were tight, and some days, the men went without any food. To top it all off, the prison was damp and muddy during the rainy months and many men died from starvation and disease.

Each morning, the death guards[6] collected the dying and those near death from the prison and deposited the bodies into the dead house. But this was just the start of the day. In Weaver’s personal account, he said, “All day long could be seen their wasted and half-naked forms carried by the dead-guard, or perhaps by some of their surviving comrades, to the dead house, where they were piled upon each other like cordwood.”

After the bodies were dropped off at the dead house, a “dead wagon” would haul the bodies out to mass trench graves. Even though the wagons would go back and forth from the dead house to the graves, the dead house was never free of dead bodies.

4Twice To The Dead House


Robert Hughes was taken by police cab to Newcastle Hospital in Australia in 1901. When the cab arrived at the hospital gates, Hughes was given a quick examination inside the cab and pronounced dead on arrival. As was the custom, the cab drove the body to the back of the hospital and Hughes was taken into the dead house.

He was placed on a cold slab that no doubt caused a shock to his system. Suddenly, he started to wriggle and breathe heavily on the table. The police were startled, and a doctor was called into the dead house.

After another quick exam to confirm that the man was actually alive, Hughes was taken into the hospital and placed in a proper bed. There, he died a second time[7] five minutes later. Sadly, he stayed dead this time and was taken to the dead house one more time.

The doctors did not know the exact cause of death. But they believed that Hughes had died of old age or poisoning.

3The Moving Skull


Pranks in the dead house used to be a common occurrence. There are numerous accounts of medical students posing as dead people and faking ghost haunts, but one doctor had a totally different night fright.

As he told a New Orleans newspaper in 1884, he once had a patient with an aneurysm. As the case puzzled the doctor, he decided that he was going to perform an autopsy upon the patient’s death. The doctor did not have to wait long for the patient to die, and the body was sent to the dead house to await inspection.

The doctor went to the dead house an hour before midnight. There, he cut open and examined his former patient. As the doctor did his work by one lit gas burner, he heard a shuffling noise from the corner of the room. It caught him off guard because he believed that he was the only living person in the room.

He inspected the area from where the noise came. But he only saw five skulls resting on the floor that were being prepared by the medical students for their cabinets.

He went back to work on his autopsy. No sooner did he start than he caught sight of some movement from that area. He stopped his work again and watched as a skull moved slowly toward him.

He eyed the floor, expecting to find string pulling the skull, but his inspection yielded no tricks. The doctor, claiming to feel rather peculiar at that moment, sat on a stool and smoked his pipe. He could not take his eyes off the skull.

The skull moved again, coming straight at him.[8] It screeched along the floor until the doctor could not take the suspense any longer. He jumped up from his stool and picked up the skull. Inside was a rat that had managed to get itself stuck inside the brain cavity. The rat was freed, and the doctor went back to work.

2The Grief Was Too Great


The dead house of Paris was situated on a bank of the Seine and was used by the city to house those who came to a violent end. Whether the victims died on land or in the water, their bodies were placed in the dead house until either a family member claimed them or they were buried in a poor man’s grave.

Two men operated the dead house in 1839, and both lived with their families on the upper floor of the building. The men, with the help of their wives, kept impeccable records of the dead: names (if known), causes of death, and the dates the bodies were brought into the building.

The men witnessed many tragedies at La Morgue, but perhaps one of the saddest was the case of little Leonore. She was a small child, and one winter day, her perfect little body was laid on a marble slab inside the dead house. Her nurse had carried her in.

With tears streaming down her cheeks, the nurse explained that she and the child had been on a stagecoach. The nurse had fallen asleep, and the child had slipped away and suffocated among the luggage of the other passengers.

The nurse laid the little girl down and began kissing her cheeks and her little hands. The nurse begged the dead house watcher to bring the child back to life. When she realized it could not be done, she asked to see the little girl’s bright blue eyes one last time.

The nurse left but was not gone for long. The nurse’s body[9] was soon wheeled to the dead house, dripping water upon the ground. Her body was laid beside that of the little girl to await someone to claim them.

1Makeshift Dead House


Makeshift dead houses are very common whenever a major accident happens and the authorities are left with multiple fatalities. One such terrible accident happened in Victoria, Australia, in 1908 when two trains collided. Several first- and second-class cars were smashed into pieces, leaving bodies “chopped up and mangled by the broken wood and ironwork.”

The trains burst into flame, burning the injured and making rescue in the heavy smoke almost impossible. Bodies littered the scene, and those who were able to walk tripped over the dead and wounded. Forty-three people had been brutally killed, and 232 were injured.

News of the accident traveled fast. Soon, the station was flooded with the friends and relatives of those who had been on the trains. Thrill seekers also turned up with the hopes of catching sight of the gruesome affair.

Medical workers and railroad employees rushed to remove those who were still alive from the area. Next, the dead bodies were taken out. According to one account:

Bodies of women and men, with their features battered out of recognition and limbs mangled, lay about the platform. One, a corpse with the head completely torn off, lay close by the mangled body of a mother with her dead baby clasped in her arms. The body of a man was hanging up between two of the carriages in a position where . . . the workers could do nothing to extricate it.

As the bodies were collected, a makeshift dead house had to be made out of two waiting rooms. All the furniture was taken out of the room, and the bodies were laid side by side. Blood continued to pour out of the fresh wounds[10] and covered the floors. Meager lamps lit up the rooms, exposing the torn clothes and pale faces of the victims as the living shuffled in, six at a time, to reclaim their loved ones.

Elizabeth, a former Pennsylvania native, recently moved to the beautiful state of Massachusetts where she is currently involved in researching early American history. She writes and travels in her spare time.

Gypsy (Roma) Culture: Customs, Traditions & Beliefs

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Gypsy (Roma) Culture: Customs, Traditions & Beliefs

Romani with their wagon, photographed in the Rheinland of Germany in 1935.

Credit: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-J0525-0500-003 / CC-BY-SA, distributed under a Creative Commons license (German Federal Archives)

About 11 million people worldwide, according to theNew York Times, and about a million in the United States, according to Time, belong to an ethnic group known as the Roma or Romani. They are more commonly called Gypsies or travelers.

The term Gypsy, considered to be mildly derogative, according to the Families for Russian and Ukrainian Adoptionorganization (FRUA), is a holdover from when it was thought these people came from Egypt. However, a study published in 2012 concluded that Romani populations have a high frequency of a particular Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA that are only found in populations from South Asia. It is now thought that the Roma people migrated to Europe from India about 1,500 years ago.

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Often, many groups are lumped together into the classification of “Gypsy.” The Romani people can include ethnic groups who are spread out all over the world, according to Open Society Foundations. Their cultures may vary somewhat, but they have common ties. Some groups that are considered Roma are Romanichals of England, Beyash from Croatia, the Kalé of Wales and Finland, Romanlar from Turkey and Domari from Palestine and Egypt. The travelers of Ireland are not Roma, but they are considered Gypsies by many.

The Romani people faced discrimination because of their dark skin and were once enslaved by Europeans. They have been portrayed as cunning, mysterious outsiders who tell fortunes and steal before moving on to the next town. In fact, the term “gypped” is probably an abbreviation of Gypsy, meaning a sly, unscrupulous person, according to NPR.

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USSR Gypsies-1983

Also, as a matter of survival, the Romani were continuously on the move. They developed a reputation for a nomadic lifestyle and a highly insular culture. Because of their outsider status and migratory nature, few attended school and literacy was not widespread. Much of what is known about the culture comes through stories told by singers and oral histories.

“A people’s culture needs to be looked at in the context of that people’s development, and no culture [should] be judged to be intrinsically superior or inferior to another,” Cristina De Rossi, an anthropologist at Barnet and Southgate College in London, told Live Science.

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In addition to Jews, homosexuals and other groups, the Roma were targeted by the Nazi regime in World War II. The German word for Gypsy, “Zigeuner,” was derived from a Greek root that meant “untouchable” and accordingly, the group was deemed “racially inferior.”

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Romani were rounded up and sent to camps to be used as labor or to be killed. During this time, Dr. Josef Mengele was also given permission to experiment with on twins and dwarves from the Roma community.

According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Nazis killed tens of thousands of Roma in the German-occupied territories of the Soviet Union and Serbia. Thousands more Roma were killed in the concentration camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Sobibor, Belzec, Chelmno, and Treblinka.

There were also Gypsy camps called Zigeunerlager that were intended just for the Roma population. These camps were long-term holding areas where hundreds of Roma died.

It is estimated that up to 220,000 Roma died in the Holocaust.

For centuries, stereotypes and prejudices have had a negative impact on the understanding of Roma culture, according to the Romani Project. Also, because the Roma people live scattered among other populations in many different regions, their ethnic culture has been influenced by interaction with the culture of their surrounding population. Nevertheless, there are some unique and special aspects to Romani culture.

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Spiritual beliefs

The Roma do not have an official faith, and in the past they typically disdained organized religion. Today, they often adopt the predominant religion of the country where they are living, according to FRUA, and describe themselves as “many stars scattered in the sight of God.” Some Roma groups are Catholic, Muslim, Pentecostal, Protestant, Anglican or Baptist, according to Open Society Foundations.

The Roma live by a complex set of rules that govern things such as cleanliness, purity, respect, honor and justice. These rules are referred to as what is “Rromano.” Rromano means to behave with dignity and respect as a Roma person, according to FRUA. “Rromanipé” is what the Romani refer to as their worldview.


Though the groups of Roma are varied, they all do speak one language. This language is called Rromanës, or the Romani language. Rromanës is related to a northern Indian dialect, called Punjab, and is spoken by about 5 to 6 million Roma people throughout Europe and the United States, according to FRUA.

Roma mom and kids.

Credit: Dinos Michail/Shutterstock


Typically, Gypsies love opulence. Roma women often wear gold jewelry and headdresses decorated with coins as a display of prosperity and generosity towards others, according to the FRUA.

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Weddings are huge affairs with large, custom-made wedding dresses. Often, the girls in a group will compete to see who can have the largest, most extravagant wedding dress. Some of this has been documented in the American show “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.”


Traditionally, anywhere from 10 to several hundred extended families form bands, or kumpanias, which travel together in caravans. Each band is led by a voivode, whom the families elect for lifetime. This person is their chieftain. A senior woman in the band, called a phuri dai, looks after the welfare of the group’s women and children.

Smaller alliances, called vitsas, are formed within the bands and are made up of families who are brought together through common ancestry.

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Family structure

The Roma place great value on extended families, according to FRUA. Families typically involve multiple generations living together, including unmarried young and adult children and a married son, his wife and their children. By the time an older son is ready to establish his own household, a younger son often will have married and brought his wife and children into the family.

Romani typically marry young — often in their teens — and many marriages are arranged. Weddings are typically very elaborate, involving very large and colorful dress for the bride and her many attendants. Though during the courtship phase, girls are encouraged to dress provocatively, sex is something that is not had until after marriage, according to The Learning Channel. Some groups have declared that no girl under 16 and no boy under 17 will be married, according to the BBC.

Romani professions

The Roma have a long history of training, trading and caring for animals. They also have worked as metal smiths, and repaired utensils and sold household goods they made themselves, according to FRUA. Many worked as traveling entertainers, using their rich musical background to earn money.

This map shows the migration of Roma people from northwest India to Europe.

Credit: PNAS

While there are still nomadic Roma, most use cars and RVs to move from place to place rather than the horses and wagons of the past.

Today, most have settled into houses and apartments and are not readily distinguishable. Because of continued discrimination, many do not publicly acknowledge their roots and only reveal themselves to other Romani.

While there is not a physical country affiliated with the Romani people, theInternational Romani Union was officially established in 1977. In 2000, The 5th World Romany Congress in 2000 officially declared Romani a non-territorial nation.

April 8 is International Day of the Roma, a day to raise awareness of the issues facing the Roma community and celebrate the Romani culture.

Additional reporting by Alina Bradford, Live Science contributor.